Worth Your Time (1/30/15)

I miss blogging. So I’m getting back in the game. Along with that comes the desire for some degree of consistency… so each Friday I plan on compiling a few of the best articles/blogs I’ve come across each week in order to pass them along to you. Here’s the first installment.

A Teenager’s View on Social Media Andrew Watts (social media, technology, teen life)
“Facebook is something we all got in middle school because it was cool but now is seen as an awkward family dinner party we can’t really leave. It’s weird and can even be annoying to have Facebook at times. That being said, if you don’t have Facebook, that’s even more weird and annoying.”

Do You Believe God Will Save Your Kids Tim Challies (parenting, family discipleship, entrusting your kids to God)
“I do what is right before my children as God opens my eyes to see the right: I teach them the Bible, I help them construct a Christian worldview, I tell them all about Jesus, and I involve them in a Christian community. Mostly I just plain love them in a way that reflects God’s love for me. I don’t do all this in order to accrue favor, but because these are the means God uses to save his people, to expose them as sinners and to reveal the Savior.”

The Only Question in Youth Ministry That Matters Tim Downey (youth ministry, lasting faith, salvation)
“I believe there is only one question that needs to be answered when it comes to youth ministry. Sounds simplistic, doesn’t it? It is a very simple question, yet the answer has profound implications for youth workers, parents, and students alike. The question is this: How will we move students towards ownership of and perseverance in their faith?”

13 Ways You Waste Your Money Tim Challies (money, stewardship, saving $$)
“I especially look for places we are spending money we don’t need to spend—bills that are too high, subscriptions we no longer need, and all of those little money-wasters that eventually add up. And over the years, I’ve collected quite a list of ways that we, and perhaps you, waste money.”

Baptizing “Masculinity”: The Real Reason Men are Leaving the Church Luke T. Harrington (men, ministry, philosophy, theology)
“Most men, in my experience, prefer to access their emotions through ideas, while most women prefer to access their ideas through emotions. This is not a claim that one approach is “superior” to the other — obviously, both feelings and ideas are indispensable to our humanity — but just that they are different, and, for whatever reason, evangelicalism tends to favor the “female” approach.”

Mummy Mask May Reveal Oldest Fragment of the Gospel of Mark Joe Carter (Bible, archaeology, reliability of Scripture)
“A text found on papyrus used on a mummy mask may be the oldest copy of a gospel known to exist—a fragment of the Gospel of Mark that was written during the first century, before the year AD 90. Until now, the oldest surviving copies of the gospel texts date to the second century (the years AD 101 to 200).”

Thinking About Evolution & Creation

Evolution & Creation are issues that people tend to have such strong opinions about, they don’t often listen to each other. Instead of lobbing grenades, we need to listen to each other. Let’s not be afraid to disagree, but let’s be respectful in how we consider such an important topic.

Last week we had a public school teacher who is a member of our church share with the youth about the Massachusetts curriculum on evolution. She walked us through a number of slides and proofs for evolution along with some of the rebuttals she is simply not allowed to share with her classes. She encouraged our students to think hard, to dig deep, and to be courageous enough to respectfully ask their teachers hard questions.

Question 1: Where are the fossils of species mid-evolution?
If evolution is process by which a species adapts in order to survive, and if it takes a long long time, why aren’t there fossils that show those animals who died mid-evolution? There should be plenty of fossils of people evolving and other species too.

Question 2: If order came from chaos, why doesn’t my bedroom clean itself?
We don’t see things go from chaos into order. But we see things go from order into chaos all the time. Creation didn’t come about on its own out of the disorder. There must have been an “order-er,” Somone who acted over creation to ensure that everything took place just right in order for creation and life to begin and continue.

Question 3: Can’t Homologous Structures simply point to a design that works so well it’s worth being used multiple ways?
Homologous Structures are patterns of biology that show a common ancestor. The image here demonstrates that since the human, dog, bird, and whale share a common ancestor because they similar bone structure. But why couldn’t God have created a design that was so good He decided to use it in multiple ways?

Question 4: Why are textbooks using bad sketches of embryos instead of actual ultrasounds of embryos?

Top: Ultrasound pictures Bottom: Haeckel’s drawings

Yes, there are similarities, but the drawings are a far cry from accurate.It is fairly well known that Haeckel’s drawings of embryos are not reliable or accurate. They were, in fact, intentionally altered to minimize differences and exaggerate similarities. But the drawings continue to be printed in today’s textbooks and presented as if they are accurate and reliable.

Question 5: Is evolution completely bogus?
That’s a big question that has a ton of books written about it. Our short answer is no. There is much evidence that species change and adapt over time, we have no problem with that. Giraffe’s have long necks because the ones with short necks couldn’t survive and reproduce. But we stand convinced that God is the creator and that species do not evolve from one species into another. We boldly proclaim that God is our creator and that Genesis is a reliable account of human history.

Question 5: Should we be afraid of science?
No! God made everything, and science helps us understand what He made. We need Christians to make significant contributions in the fields of science, as they have throughout history (many of the greatest scientists throughout history have been devout Christians). Unfortunately, Christians are often silenced from offering their interpretations of scientific research, which gives the impression that there is only one way to interpret things. Be encouraged! There are intelligent Christians who are looking at the same research and drawing the conclusion that God is our maker and sustainer and savior. It may take more work and effort on your part to discover what these scientists have to say, but it is well worth the effort!

You are NOT an accident!
You may have been a surprise to your parents, but you are not an accident! God made you, and he did it on purpose. You are not a mere biological mutation or a “miracle” of nature. God gives life, and he want you to find your fullness in Him through Jesus Christ. Whatever you’re going through and however you’re feeling about yourself, you can be assured of this: God knows you, and he wants you to know him!

Resources:

Here’s a great video on Haeckel’s embryo’s. It’s very very good.

Creation Ministries International and Answers in Genesis both have some very good articles throughout their sites. Check out the links above for their articles related to evolution.

Cheer on the Pats with us!

In case you live under a rock, the Patriots are almost in the Super Bowl! The AFC Championship between the Patriots and the Colts is this Sunday (1/18) at 6:30pm. Come cheer them on with us, and even if you don’t like football there will be plenty of other table games, board games, and friends to hang out with… and lots of food! We will supply the pizza and drinks, you bring a snack to share.

YG AFC Championship

In case you think we’re “selling out”… remember that Sunday night Youth Group is primarily intended for nonbelievers and new believers while Sunday School and nine23 are meant for the meatier discipleship. So bring your friends to watch the game with us, and then invite them to youth group next Sunday night too.

How To Know God’s Will

This lesson is part of our “You Asked for it!” series, where students shared some tough questions they want answers to. This week, we’re looking at the question, “How do I know what God wants me to do?” There are three basic steps we walked through.

God's Plan a Mystery

Clarification: What do we mean by “God’s Will?”
Think about a Will that someone leaves behind when they die. It reveals to others what they want to be done with their stuff. Technically, “will” and “desire” have the same roots… So “God’s will” is the same as “God’s desire.” Asking “What is God’s will?” is the same as asking “What does God want?” (it’s just a more Christianese and “religious” way of saying it).

Step 1: Let the Bible Make You Wise
God isn’t hiding, and his will isn’t meant to be a mystery. God has given us the Bible in order to reveal his will and his desires. The Bible is way more than a book of wisdom, so don’t think of it as a list of do’s and don’ts… but there are definitely commands to be followed. If you want to know what kind of person God wants you to be, that is clearly available for you in Scripture. Read through the Gospels and see how Jesus lived, how he treated people, and what he taught. Read through the Old Testament and see the examples of people who walked with God (they had their flaws, and sometimes they made stupidly terrible decisions).

Step 2: Make the Wisest Choice You Can
You won’t find the answer to “What college should I attend?” or “Should I ask that girl on a date?” But if you have followed step one and if you are consistently seeking God’s wisdom, then that should steer you towards making wise choices (and away from making stupid and foolish ones). There are many things God simply leaves up for us to decide: what to wear, what to eat, etc. If we stressed over ruining God’s grand plan by messing up one of the hundreds of decisions we make every day, then we’d be overwhelmed and paralyzed. We’d never do anything out of fear of messing up God’s will.

Step 3: Trust God With Every Step
Trust that God is big enough and powerful enough to use your good choices and your bad ones too. He is honored and pleased by your wise choices, and he uses the bad ones for his glory too. Just look at how many times in the Bible people made really really bad choices but God’s will was totally fulfilled anyway (Here’s looking at you Joseph).

Big Idea: The Bible make you wise, make the wisest decision you can, and learn to trust God with every step. 

How Do You Use Tech & Social Media?

Tech is constantly changing and it’s always an uphill climb to keep up to date on how people communicate and like to be communicated with. I also think it’s interesting to see the differences between teenagers and their parents in tech/media use. This blog post here got me thinking, “I wonder if the students at EBC would agree and say the same thing?”

As a pastor, I really want to do my best to communicate with you the best way possible, so would you please take just a few minutes to fill out the short survey below. Please only answer the questions that are for you.

(FYI: I’m not planning on stalking places like Snapchat and whatever based off this survey, I’m just curious about what’s being used and how many people use it.)

2015 Missions Team: Pawley’s Island, SC

leadertreks-logoThis year’s missions team will be traveling to Pawley’s Island, SC to serve with LeaderTreks. Here’s all the basic info you need, please contact Pastor Mike if you have any other questions! Start praying about whether or not God would have you serve on this missions team and get your deposit/forms submitted by Feb. 1st.

FullSizeRenderWhere: Pawley’s Island, SC
When: August 1-9, 2015
What: Physical service (home repair, building, etc.) & children’s ministry (most likely a VBS program)
Goals: Spiritual Growth & Leadership Development
Cost: $900 total ($150 student deposit, $750 will be fundraised)
Travel: Two days of driving each way (likely staying in Richmond, VA)
How to Sign Up: Submit $150, Application, and Release Form by February 1st. (download by clicking links above)

Why You Should Go:
1. Spiritual Growth. If you want to grow in your faith, this trip is for you. If you want to “get away” for a week and start building habits that get you reading your Bible and praying and doing acts of service/ministry, then this trip is for you. Simply put, if you want to discover more about your faith in Jesus and grow as a Christian, this is a great opportunity for you!

2. Leadership Development. If you want to come on a trip that’s basically a vacation, this trip is NOT for you. If you want to be challenged and work hard, this IS for you. You will be given opportunities to lead, make decisions, and do meaningful work. When problems come up, the adults aren’t going to fix them all for you… you students will be supported while you discover the solutions together. We want you to be equipped, so that whatever your personality and whatever your gifts are, you discover what your style of leadership looks like.

Obviously every team’s experience is different, but here’s a video from another church’s time serving with LeaderTreks at Pawley’s Island… maybe you will have the opportunity to meet some of the kids you’ll see in this video!